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UPDATE 1-J&J to send 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to S.Africa by end-June -President Ramaphosa

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JOHANNESBURG, June 15 (Reuters) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that Johnson & Johnson would send 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the country by the end of the month, making up for the amount lost due to contamination at an U.S. ingredient supplier.

Aspen Pharmacare, J&J's local producer, had to destroy 2 million doses of the vaccine after the contamination at a plant in Baltimore, Maryland, was discovered, the latest blow to South Africa's struggling vaccination campaign.

"We have received an indication from Johnson & Johnson that it expects to deliver around 2 million vaccines to South Africa by the end of the month," Ramaphosa said in a televised address.

He also announced that the country, which is in the grip of a third wave of infections, would move from an adjusted lockdown level 2 to the stricter level 3 amid a surge in infections. This will include restrictions on alcohol sales and tougher rules around gatherings.

Ramaphosa said now that vaccine supply issues had been resolved, the country had the estimated capacity to vaccinate at least 150,000 people per day and was planning to increase that to 250,000 as soon as possible.

"I would prefer 300,000 per day, which we will try and reach," he said. (Reporting by Emma Rumney Editing by Chris Reese and Sonya Hepinstall)

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